I Am Not My Hair

by Kimberly Alexander, M.S.

After so many months without any professional input on my hair care, I realized that it was time for a cut. So, I take my time to research salons and identify stylists that have had experience working with curly hair. I even researched reviews on them and their salon and I was finally able to lock down a place I trust… or so I thought.

As I made the phone call to set up the appointment, it turns out that the time I spent avoiding salons for the past eight months reinforced the fears I had about others managing my hair. I know, it seems silly. But as I spoke with the receptionist, I felt my heart racing, a sense of shortness of breath, and a sort of tingly sensation flooding my chest. I realized that I was experiencing a lot of anxiety during this phone call that was manifesting as physical sensations. This was definitely unhelpful because I suddenly was more focused on what I was physically experiencing than participating in the conversation that was occurring. I immediately took some deep breaths to help decrease the sensations which helped me to finish the conversation and lock in an appointment.

I realized that even though I wasn’t physically anxious since the phone call ended, there is something going on here that I need to address. As it turns out, all this time I had been avoiding hair salons allowed for me to develop some really irrational fears and predictions regarding salons. I was thinking that I would definitely experience “hair trauma” if anyone else touches my hair. All that hard work and money I put into caring for my hair and using quality products will go down the drain and I will be forced to cut all my hair off!

However, the fact of the matter was that not maintaining my hair care for the last 8 months caused more harm than good. I actually needed a larger cut than typical and as I was becoming avoidant and anxious. Understanding this, I ended up spending the few hours before my appointment reframing my worries and considering the evidence to suggest this appointment was going to go awry.

I had none. This location and stylist were well reviewed. I had ONLY one or two bad past experiences in all the times I’ve been to a salon. And even if the appointment doesn’t go well, I’ve been able to handle some pretty bad hair experiences so I’m sure I will get through this even if it’s annoying to deal with. Let’s put it this way, no matter how bad the moment was, I’ve always been able to “push through” and continue with life. My hair will be far from the thing that “breaks” me!

So, it’s time for my appointment. I sit in the chair, and yes, I do feel some pangs of anxiety but I take my deep breaths and I let the hair stylist know I’m nervous. She empathetically asked for my story and honestly the experience of retelling my story, taking my deep breaths and telling myself thoughts that were realistic helped tremendously!

After all was said and done, I looked at myself in the mirror and LOVED my new cut! And as I beamed from ear to ear, relieved yet excited at what I saw, my stylist “reminded” me that hair GROWS, to enjoy this journey back to my natural hair, and my hair was never that badly off in her professional opinion… So my worries were all in my head!

Kimberly Alexander, M.S.

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